Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

ugh edition

Alice Munro died... last week. I only just found out. Although it seems like she hadn't written since the Nobel Prize, I liked knowing she was in this world. I will reread some stories in her honor tonight.

Bluey (my car) has been at the dealership since JANUARY. I'm so used to just plugging in to charge since 2019, and I am so over going to the gas station every few days now to pump gas in this loaner they gave me. Plus, I miss Bluey! 

Our air conditioning isn't working. We were told it wouldn't last the season when we moved in eight years ago, so I should be thankful we got those extra years... and I am. (But still salty we probably have to spend $$$ now.)

U of M used chemical substances on their students and took down their encampment (Tahrir) after 30 days. It happened at 5:30 am and the organizers sent a text requesting people to show up... but I was asleep. Many of the Jewish Voices for Peace students are now in hospital with chemical burns. How can a university attack the students in their care!??

Pic: The solarium smells so good because one jasmine blossomed. Just one. I had to peer closely and follow my nose to find the one true bloom (bottom right). I can't imagine how heady it would be to have the whole bush in flower! (I mean I know how heady it would be from my India days, but I'd be delirious with happiness if I could replicate that here.)

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Six for Saturday

1) Drama in the morning! Nu and Max discovered some grey, eyeless, blobby newborns by the picnic table on their morning walk. We googled to learn that they were rabbit kits. We're not sure where the mama is, so we did as the article suggested and covered the kits in a tic-tac-toe pattern of sticks. If the pattern remains undisturbed in 24 hours, it means the mama did not/could not return to them and they'll need to be taken to an animal clinic. I hope these babies survive the next 24 hours--they seem so vulnerable and exposed. 

2) Another delivery: the new side gate arrived! Not only is it not made of rotting wood, but it is also bright red and looks so good against our blueberry-colored house. 

3) LB and I had a date in Old Town for some thrifting, boutique browsing, a stroll on the river walk, and brunch. I got some cheeky stickers and had dinner for brunch. 

4) It's the day of the MSU horticultural plant sale. We thought we were too late for it, realized we weren't, turned around, and brought back two cartloads of plants. I planted all afternoon long.

5) The neighbors are starting a community garden at the end of our cul-de-sac. I took some lilies from my MSU horticultural haul. I went in the dress and sandals I wore to brunch with LB, so I just stood there decoratively for a while taking pictures and airily suggesting where people could plant things. LOL.

6) I looked for tickets to the musical Six online to find they were all sold out. And then miraculously BOL called to pass on their tickets as they didn't feel well. But I was bone weary, had just taken a leisurely bath, and was looking forward to eating leftovers and relaxing--so sadly, I decided to pass them up. I wonder if I will kick myself for this decision tomorrow. 

Pic: Neighbors are hard at work while I was on my phone.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

mountain peak and a domestic peek

Another early morning hike. The peak was approx 2500 feet above sea level, with the last couple of turns like corkscrews. I caught sight of the steep pitch of the mountain and feared for my tender body slipping and crashing into boulders and cacti. I had a small panic attack, and then screwed my courage to the sticking place and carried on until I made it to the top. Big A was the perfect partner--promising to pick a careful path and offering to physically hold my hand but not pushing or coaxing me into doing it. It was cool and drizzly and spectacular when I got to the top.

We stopped at Del Taco (BEST DONUT BITES EVER) and then returned to our hotel room to shower, nap, and get to the airport for the trip home. 

When we got home, we opened the door to see all the sibs eating takeout and just hanging out together. It was a lovely tableau and a peek into how well "sibs' week" had gone.

Pic: From the top of Two-Bit Trail in the Phoenix Mountains this morning.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Mother's Day mess: It's a fine one, don't worry!

MIL was in town, so we had a big Mother's Day brunch like we used to have when we lived in Yellow Springs. I dug up some Lily of the Valley (just going bonkers in our front yard) for some pretty arrangements, baked spice cupcakes with lavender and rose petal frosting, and put together a row of salads people could nosh on by themselves or fold into something from the bread basket. 

(When I was planning this, I thought I'd have to make a trip to the store because we were nearly out of croissants, but then I put together an assortment of bread from the bread bin--bagels, sourdough, 21-seed--along with the last of the croissants and saved myself a trip. Plus it looked fancier. Plus things that needed to get eaten got eaten.)

I spent a lot of time at Scout's memorial (Scout was the OG mama's baby), finished a ton of garden maintenance, got a long soak, read for a couple of hours, chatted to post-shift Big A, and played sounding board to Nu (yes--it would be nice to make a get-well-soon card for your friend).

All that was really nice. But as I'd admitted when I was out with my girlfriends on Thursday, I was sad. At had told me earlier this week--after I'd asked a few times when to expect them on Mother's Day--that they'd be in Chicago to take in a concert. As I lamented to my girlfriends, it's on the calendar (the family one too) and I'd have been totally ok with it if At had just told me themselves ahead of time or if it were a trip for work or something. OR, the girlfriends said--if At had said they were going to attend a concert, but had made plans to celebrate with me another day. Ok, that too. 

Most of all, I disliked feeling like I was being high-maintenance or precious about Mother's Day--our plans are simple, usually we just spend time together in the garden. As it happened, At stopped by after the concert for a quick visit with a card detailing an elaborate plan for the 24th. It was as if my girlfriends had manifested this nice turn of events for me! So we have a M.U.M. Day (Make-Up Mother's Day) and yes, this too is something we've done before

Also: At said the concert sucked. 

Also: Don't even ask about Nu.

Pic: An "ussie" of me with the kids this evening: Huck, Max, At, and Nu on the other side of me.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

drop by drop

My baby uncle, my mom's youngest sister's husband, was named for King Sibi who was willing to sacrifice his life for a dove. As a kid, I always imagined my uncle was kind.  

And he was. 

One of my earliest memories of him is as a newlywed trying to impress his new niblings (me and my cousins) with a party trick he'd learned at college. The objective was to drop a coin into a glass filled to the brim without spilling any water. 

My uncle would dip the coin into the glass, but then quickly withdraw it as if too nervous to actually let it go. He did this about four or five times and then finally released the coin into the water, where it sank without displacing a single drop of water. 

The "trick" was that every time he dipped the coin into the glass, he was removing a drop or two of water when he withdrew it--after doing this enough times, it became safe to release the coin because the glass was no longer as full. I think of this as the drop-by-drop method (like Anne Lamott's bird-by-bird, or AA's one day at a time)... an exercise in chipping things away through small and steady measures. 

My sister told me that our baby uncle died in a road accident today. The narrative arc between that newlywed trying to impress a gaggle of new niblings and today's news of dismemberment by an 18-wheeler makes no sense. It doesn't even seem real.

Thursday, May 09, 2024

it's old and faded now

Although we always felt some pity for her by that point in our visit 
when our Dorakanti grandmother would lament that though she'd yearned for daughters 
all her life, all she had been given were six sons 
and that was why she loved her granddaughters so much
my sister and I would remain stiff and unbending. 

We had heard that Dorakanti grandmother had been mean to our mother 
when she was a new daughter-in-law 
and that made her eternally unpleasant in our eyes. 

We were stiff as scarecrows inside Dorakanti grandmother’s embrace
stiff and unfriendly to the children from next door summoned to play with us
and our interactions with the special snacks made for us were cursory.

We paid attention when it was story time, but only silently
and only because it was dark and no one could see our eyes stirring to the story 
the punctuating “umms,” which were our duty as audience, needlessly parsimonious and slow.

Dorakanti grandmother’s stories were strange in that they never began with a “once upon a time.”
They all began, “in a place,” “in a village,” “in a town.” 
It was as if these stories where the prince fell in love with the princess 
after chancing upon just one filament of her preternaturally long and fragrant hair 
or where the young prince battled tigers to impress his mother
--as if these stupid, unnatural things had happened just a few weeks before we came to visit.

And at the end of the story when the prince married the princess 
or the young prince was crowned, there would be a big celebration 
and grandmother would launch her punch line:
“That was when they presented me with this sari,” she would say, 
holding her sari out for us to touch, hoping we would scoot closer to her. 
It’s old and faded now, but it was rich and shiny when they gave it to me.” 
And we’d reach for her sari politely enough, 
even knowing that our fingers would be snatched up and kissed, 
but we’d remain curled up around ourselves, my sister‘s hand in mine.

And although I'd will myself to fall asleep quickly
knowing dad would take us home the next day
I'd wake as grandmother stroked our limbs before she left the room
stretching each of our legs in the half darkness to their furthest length 
so we'd "grow tall in our sleep" and not take after her.

Pic: Max getting his zoomies out. All I have to say to this puppy I love so much is "I'm going to CATCH you, Maxie!" That's it, he'll play keep-away for the next five minutes. Scout played this way too, so I enjoy this on so many levels.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024


1) They now know me by name at Hammond Farms where I get rocks and pebbles for the pond. We've been getting comfortable: The first day I showed up in a dress, then it was pants, then sweats, then shorts...  on my most recent trip, I went in my ratty back brace. The people who work there--especially the women--are amazing.

 2) This poem got accepted for publication in an academic volume. The editor suggested changing "assignment" to "answer" in the penultimate line for clarity, and I agree. They liked how my persona's responses are reduced to the merely parenthetical in the poem. 

3) There's another happy ending too. After I wrote the poem, I set my hurt feelings aside to focus on continuing to do what I'm supposed to do--help the student learn. We had a few individual sessions, the student began to enjoy the readings, refined their ideas, improved their writing, and by the end of the semester, was repeatedly thanking me in class meetings. I learned too; I'm now inclined to think that their initial snipe came from awkwardness more than malice. 

4) Pic: I've been having better luck relaxing with my morning tea on this side of the tea garden, without getting distracted by tasks. The light started off gray and moody, but it soon turned into a brilliant and gloriously sunshiny day later. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Ope--not what it seems

I woke up before my alarm went off this morning, glanced through the cloudy bedroom windows, and saw Max standing still in the middle of the pond. I dashed to the window, and it took me a few seconds to recompute. It wasn't Max. It was the work gloves I'd perched on top of the barrow, which looked like my puppy looking right at me--at least as I was opening my eyes after two hours of sleep.

Also: I was called in for an important meeting at work today and Big A was convinced that I was going to be offered a promotion. Umm. No. I was called in so I could be informed that someone else was getting a promotion. It's all good. This way, I don't have to do budgets, so we all win. 

Pic: I can still see how I mistook my gloves for Max, and it takes me back to that moment of waking up in a panic and my self-deprecatory chuckles soon after. It was nice to be so thoroughly woken up and in a good mood so early in the day. 

Monday, May 06, 2024

weirdness, madness, and freaking the eff out

Weird: I thought I'd gotten poison ivy on myself from digging up myrtle to transplant. I could feel the blisters forming because I saw those pointy leaves in clusters of five... until I remembered the rhyme was "leaves of three/let them be" and realized I was ok...  and wouldn't you know it, the blistering sensation went away by itself. What a psychosomatic weirdo. 

Mad: I've felt so strange all day with the news from Rafah. Online acquaintances have basically been saying goodbye because there is nowhere to go--this is where they were told to go to be safe! People in power (Egypt, Qatar, USA, Israel) in the meantime are offering/accepting/rejecting ceasefire terms. The dissonance is so huge. I'm grateful for Macklemore's release of their single, "Hind's Hallfor amplifying the issue. Is it great art? Is it even hiphop? But I ain't mad about that.

Pic: Freaking Out: Max and Huck in a prelude to what Big A calls "face-fighting" where they growl and groan and mouth each other's faces. They're playing--sometimes with toys--and they never clamp down or bite, but it freaks me out every time. 

Sunday, May 05, 2024

It's beginning to feel a lot like... Spring!

A full weekend! 

Lots of people: foraged for more morels with work friend TR; met Baby R with the whole gang of girlfriends today at lunch; celebrated At yesterday with the whole fam at dinner; chatted with LB, SM, JB, And JA at separate times when they stopped by; and got lots of FaceTime and phone-calls in as well.

Lots of yardwork: Big A and I worked for hours on the pond yesterday and today and are so close to closer being done. We both found the perfect place to find stone edging--Big A online and me from driving past the place on my way to work--and... it turned out to be the same place! I like working with Big A on this project. I guess we could have hired someone to do this work, but it was spend-y + I like that this way I will always remember us creating it together every time I catch a glimpse of it.

Pic: The backyard looks so green. I'm going to treat myself to a visit to the plant store tomorrow!

Saturday, May 04, 2024


Still feels unreal that At is now a 25-year-old, but we made it official with birthday biriyani, presents, and cake today. I think about all the versions of At and how much I love them all.

My love didn't falter even when At made us watch an Orson Welles documentary called Fake (I think! It had its moments, but I was so tired from continually being on my feet--for at least 12 hours by Big A's estimate--I had to frequently be nudged awake.)

Pic: At wearing some birthday presents (red rain jacket, silver hoops) and taking a bow before blowing out birthday candles. Nu, Big A, Max, and Huck are in there at varying levels of visibility too.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Today I found...

1) Inside, I've been finding it really hot, so we had to bring up the electric fans from the basement early this year. 

2) In my email, I found a contract for an article accepted to an anthology--this has been years in the making!

3) In my closet, I found my favorite skirt from before we were married. It's faded now, but I wear it now and then because Big A once told me he liked it a lot. 

4) On my body, I've been finding bruises up and down my legs. Today I realized it's because I've been shoveling a lot of stuff in the garden this week, and I've been bracing the shovel's handle against my body as I use my body weight to budge things. I've got to stop doing this.

5) On the news, I found the NYPD's actions on the Columbia and CUNY campuses brutal and the footage terrifying. This is under the watch of a Dem mayor, governor, and president, so I'm not sure what new lows the November elections will bring.

6) Pic: In our front yard, I found some morels this morning in the woodsy patch. They usually pop up in May (I mean tomorrow is May, but still), so this is technically the earliest. I don't like being in the woods by myself, so although I could see our front door (literally), I kept looking around to reassure myself there were no surprise creatures hiding. I'm such a city mouse!

Monday, April 29, 2024

when newness comes

so many mornings
winds are sighing
curving in prayer
commas to care

so many mornings
your words flood 
me, washing away
any origins of joy

but some mornings
I imagine just being 
a door flung... open
speaking  yes  easily
Pic: At, Nu, Max... At calling to Huck over her shoulder. #CherryTree(s)

Not pictured: Me at the very tippy-top of my league on Duolingo Arabic!

Sunday, April 28, 2024

oh, snap(shot)

Pic: I am well-loved tonight. Max and Huck are "hugging" me. 

Earlier this day, I tried to take a cherry blossom family pic outside, but the recent storms had already brought all the white blossoms down and our pink tree and Scout are, of course, missing.

But also: Nu built a bench to go by the new pond, Big A spent hours trenching (finally acceding) to my specifications, At stopped by for dinner--all shiny and dressed up--just as I took the pot of rice off the stove. Watching the kids clear up after dinner, their clearing-up choreography still aligned so seamlessly, reminded me of all the golden years we've had as a family.  

I'm grateful for these days of small kindnesses and great love.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

puppy condo rules

Although I don't spend much time in there, our puppy "condo" is one of my favorite spaces. Max and Huckie dislike being in there by themselves (and Scout would complain SO MUCH), but it's nice for them to have a room in case a guest is uncomfortable around dogs, or they're wet, or got into something stinky. 

I like the puppy-centric art and the family pictures and all that--but my favorite part is the old mat that says "Wipe Your Paws." And I like that it faces outwards as if reminding those of us visiting to be respectful of the puppies' high standards for cleanliness. 

Pic: Max and Huckie pouting in their condo.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

the other one

I keep feeling like I'm missing something. Part of it is the usual anxiety of final grading and checking my sums a million times as I'm bad at numbers. 

But it's also a season of sadness and grief. I don't know how we've made it a whole year without Scout, whose anniversary is on Wednesday... 

The cherry tree blossomed and reminds me of organizing the family to take a picture every year. Last year's picture makes me sob

Last fall, a storm took out the pink cherry blossom tree, so it's like a note from the universe that things will never ever be the same again.

 Pic: White cherry blossoms against the sky. I miss our pink cherry blossom tree and the mix of pink and white across the sky.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

coming along

After we dug a bigger pond in December, the weather got wintry, so we didn't get to work on it. But yesterday, we wrestled the pond liner (it weighed over 300 pounds!) into place and started filling the pond.

Today I spent nearly eight hours pulling the liner tight and anchoring it with dirt. This involved digging a trench alongside the outer wall, lifting and folding the liner, and then shoveling the dirt tight around it. I counted it as today's workout. 

Nu was with friends and Big A is in Milwaukee, so it was just Huckie, Max, and me. But it was SUCH A LOVELY DAY, it felt like a blessing to be outside.

It still looks pretty messy and I still have to find a way to edge it so the pond liner is hidden under more natural elements. Sometimes garden projects take years to look pretty, but I'm not known for my patience.

Pic: The sun smiling on my labors. I love the heart-like indent at the top of the pond. MSU dorms in the distance.

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

how to make friends

If you're Max it means you just follow the person you want to befriend until they get tired and flop down. Then you can flop down really close to them or on top of them. It doesn't matter if they're smaller than you. You're just a baby. Then they're your best friend. And when someone else comes into the room, you can do the same to them so you have a lot of best friends. It's also called family.

I don't think Max gets consent, we'll have to teach him better. Big A is reading The Bee Sting now and both of us chuckle with horror (is that possible?) at how clueless 12-year-old PJ, one of the narrators, is. 

Pic: Huck submerged under Max early this morning.

Monday, April 08, 2024

solar eclipse of the heart

I'd never seen a solar eclipse before... I've watched live coverage on television, but haven't looked directly at one. 

Like the Hopi Indians, Hindu Indians believe the eclipse is a time of meditation. So usually, I just sit in a dark room. But we were in the path of near totality (96%) and this could be my only chance in this lifetime unless I chase one down through travel (unlikely). So I decided to get solar eclipse-safe glasses and peek out.

I'm glad I did; it was pretty cool. Through the glasses, the eclipse progressed as though a set of illustrations in a science textbook. But when I tried to take pictures, it looked like a normal picture of the sun. 

I felt tense in the moments before the eclipse started... Big A was in a meeting with students and residents, Nu was in school, At was at work... I would see them all later in the day, but it was weird being the only human in the house knowing an event of cosmic significance was taking place. I sat with all the drapes shut in the rumpus room so Max and Huck wouldn't accidentally sear their retinas. L and some other GFs were texting to share our experience.  Nu came home just before peak totality (around 3:00 pm) and (superciliously 😛) helped me understand why my phone camera wasn't picking up the eclipse.

On social media people have been raving about how it was a transformative experience for them; I must admit I was underwhelmed. Since I'm transported by even fairly low-key natural phenomena like new grass or birdsong in the city or a regular sunrise, I was really expecting the eclipse to unlock something in me... but nothing happened. So that's my eclipse story: 4/8/2024; I was there.

Pic: The sun is about a quarter of the way through the eclipse here. (Not what I thought my eclipse picture would look like.)

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

I'm just over here

...with Max's heart-shaped schnoz, reading everything I can get my hands on, and grading all the things because it's that time in the world and in the semester.

I'm also taking hope from the "uninstructed" voters in Wisconsin today. I am not alone, and I hope our politicians will listen to us. In the meantime, there are people to love, work to do, and Arabic to learn.

It was an easy day today, overall--the peskiest thing was spending an hour in the car to drop off "meal-train" food. Usually, it would take 20 minutes, but the family had requested it at 5, so I got enmeshed in rush-hour traffic. 

Pic: Max (and Huckie behind him) keeping me warm, soft, and sane. 

(Forgive the lighting... Big A and Nu like a red palette for the rumpus room lighting. It's a bit like being in The Shining in the evenings.)

crossed lines

A long chat with my mom who is back home from staying with her newly bereaved sister for a week and everything is Just. So Sad.  My aunt wan...